Medieval Letters

Medieval  manuscripts are always decorated with initials – a large capital letter (Latin initium – “start”).

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It was richly painted floral ornaments. Often ornament went beyond the initial and captured the entire page, artistic framing it. Very often such ornaments are on Late Medieval manuscripts.

New thoughts in the text was always shown with red paint. In the Middle Ages, the first (and sometimes second) line of the paragraph was made of red and called “Rubrica” (Latin Rubrica – “Red Clay”).

Already in the early Middle Ages used a lot of gold and silver paint. Usually it was used to write the sacred names. However, there were entire codexes written with gold (Latin Codex Aurei), silver (Latin Codex Argenti), or red paint (Latin Codex Purpureus). Such books were valued particularly expensive.

Most often, the black ink was used (and it remained in the name) and ink is called in different countries in different ways. In Greek, it was called melan, in Latin – atramentam, on Old German – black. Black ink for manuscripts were made from oak nuts with a thick resin of certain trees. Colored inks were used less frequently.

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